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Buying Your Fishing License

Why Buy a Saltwater License When You Only Fish for Largemouth Bass?

By Steve Lightfoot

Fishing has become a specialized sport, and most avid anglers have become accustomed to targeting different fish with different tackle. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department thinks fishing licenses should be tailored as well. You wouldn’t buy a bass spinnerbait to catch a red drum, for example, so why would you purchase a saltwater fishing license if you only fish for largemouth bass?

Beginning this fall, Texas anglers will have the option of picking the fishing license that matches their fishing preference: freshwater, saltwater or both.

When you go to buy a license, just keep in mind where and when you plan on fishing. Hunting licenses haven’t changed, but if you buy a combination hunting and fishing license, you’ll have to specify your fishing preference.

The popular Super Combo, “one-stop shop” license package will still include everything you need to hunt and fish anywhere in Texas.

The reason for splitting up the fishing license is simple accounting. Coastal anglers shouldn’t have to pay for a freshwater resource they don’t use and vice versa for anglers who don’t fish in salt water.

The TPWD Inland Fisheries Division needs a new fish hatchery. Since the 1970s, the agency has shut down a dozen aging and inefficient state fish hatcheries and now has only five, while the number of public reservoirs has skyrocketed during that time period.

To pay for a new fish hatchery in East Texas and to help buy fish for stocking, anglers who fish in fresh water will be required to buy a $5 freshwater fishing stamp. A similar $10 stamp required to fish in salt water has been in place for several years, and the money from that endorsement pays for coastal fisheries management.

The freshwater fishing stamp is not permanent. TPWD expects to raise enough money to pay for the new hatchery during the next 10 years, at which time the stamp fee will expire. Because the freshwater stamp will also help buy fish, the agency has dropped the trout stamp.

There are also other new license options.

Along with the freshwater stamp, TPWD created a new July/August summer license, a new single-day license and, for the first time in many years, a convenient “year from date of purchase” license that is good for 365 days from the date of purchase. Currently, all licenses expire each year on Aug. 31.

If you're only going fishing once this year, there’s now a Day Plus license with an option to buy additional daily privileges at the time of purchase.

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